Should Trump Be Required To Release His Tax Returns?

In January 2016, Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump told NBC’s Meet the Press that he was preparing a “big”, “beautiful” tax return to make public before the November election However Trump has yet to disclose his taxes, and in May he was quoted saying that such documents would likely never be released, as there is “nothing to learn from them”

So, is there any merit to this? Why are presidential candidates expected to release their tax returns? Well, a federal income tax return is, in many ways, a snapshot of a person’s socioeconomic profile The document shows the owner’s income, charitable donations, business ventures and, of course, how much money they’ve paid in taxes Tax returns can also reveal offshore holdings or foreign bank accounts, which can be used for money laundering or tax evasion Every US

citizen, including candidates for public office, have the right to keep their tax returns private However, presidential and vice presidential candidates are strongly encouraged, and even expected, to publicly disclose those documents This idea can be traced back to President Richard Nixon, who, while running as the vice presidential candidate in 1952, called for his opponents to release their financial information to gain the full faith of the American people Ironically, Nixon refused to release his own tax returns until 1973, more than 20 years later Nixon’s impropriety during the infamous Watergate scandal led to the Ethics in Government Act in 1978

The act required all presidential candidates to publicly disclose their financial and employment history, but did not include releasing federal tax returns Nonetheless, by the late 1970s, candidates releasing their tax returns became common practice So, what would a tax return reveal about Donald Trump? Well, the documents would show his income, which he has been accused of vastly overstating, as well as his many business ventures, which few people know the actual success and scope of But experts say that the most significant and perhaps damning reveal would be his donated assets Trump has repeatedly boasted about his charitable giving, claiming to have donated more than $100 million dollars to charity, even calling himself an “ardent philanthropist”

However many have questioned the accuracy of his statements If Trump does not release his tax returns, he would be the only eighth candidate not to do so since 1976 What’s more, every president since Jimmy Carter has made their returns public prior to taking office In more than one instance, these documents have caused the public to raise an eyebrow When Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney finally released his tax return under mounting public pressure, they revealed that he had between $20 and $100 million dollars in an Individual Retirement Account

IRA’s are a common way to achieve big tax breaks on savings, however federal law caps an individual’s contributions to $30 thousand dollars per year But in other cases, publicly disclosed tax returns have actually benefitted a candidate For instance, Bill and Hillary Clinton’s 1994 tax returns corroborated the President and First Lady’s claims about their controversial Whitewater land deal, and George HW Bush’s 1991 return revealed that he had donated more than half of his income to charity In his defense, Trump has said that he cannot release his tax returns until the IRS finishes an audit of his finances

However, critics have noted that an audit does not bar candidates from disclosing returns, and has not prevented other candidates from doing so in the past But regardless of Donald Trump’s motivation is to keep the documents private, the lack of financial transparency is unusual for a presidential candidate For those candidates who aren’t already wealthy, running for president is actually a pretty good way of making money Find out how by watching this video Thanks for checking out Seeker Daily

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